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Category: American History

Autor: anton 09 December 2010

Words: 354 | Pages: 2

Called the "Jewel of the Missions" Mission San Juan Capistrano is probably the best known of all the California missions. Famous for its beautiful gardens, it is the spring home for thousands of swallows that annually migrate some 2,000 miles from their winter homes in Central America. Their arrival in San Juan Capistrano is celebrated on March 19th, Saint Joseph's Day, with the ringing of the mission bells.

Originally founded by Fr. Lasuen on October 30, 1775, the site was abandoned after eight days when they received word of an attack at the San Diego Mission. They quickly buried the bells for safe keeping and fled to the Presidio (fort) in San Diego for shelter.

In 1796 work was begun on a large stone church that was to be the most magnificent of all the California mission churches. Under the guidance of an expert stonemason from Mexico the natives transported the stones from a quarry six miles away. Nine years later the church was completed. The Great Stone church was built in the shape of a cross, 180 feet long and 40 feet wide. Above the front entrance is a 120 foot tall bell tower that could be seen for miles.

Tragically, this magnificent church only stood for six years. The devastating earthquake of 1812 destroyed this pride of the California missions. Even more tragically, 40 bodies were dug out of the rubble, as the quake struck during a Mass. No plans were ever made to rebuild the Great Stone Church.

In December, 1812 an earthquake destroyed the church at San Juan Capistrano Mission, killing 40 natives including two boys who were ringing the bells at the time. The church was not rebuilt.

In 1818, the pirate Bouchard attacked the California coast, supposedly in the name of a South American province that was rebelling against Spain. In truth, he used the revolution as an excuse to attack the California settlements. Padre Geronimo Boscano was warned of the pirate's approach and he gathered up the natives and fled. The Spanish guard tried to hold off the pirates but they only succeeded in causing greater damage in the end.

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